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Vassall Road by Tony Fretton Architects

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More Homes, Better Homes: The AJ presents twelve exemplar housing schemes

Vassal Road is composed of dignified, semi-detached, early Victorian villas on one side and a Modernist brick terrace of social housing on the other, which was originally well composed but has been vandalised by over-cladding and demolition of its integral public house.

Our scheme of saleable apartments and duplexes above a clinic is on the site of the former public house and is the outcome of a joint venture between the social housing company and our developer client, Baylight.

Our design provides collective symbolism and a sense of community for this type of market-led building. To give social diversity, dwellings were designed to appeal equally to small families, retired couples or single people working from home. Patios and a communal walkway along the rear of the building create grounds for sociability, while balconies facing south provide contact with the wider neighbourhood.

The scheme is modest - only 10 dwellings - but during the time it took to get through planning to completion we were able to do around 200 apartments in Amsterdam, where intelligent planning has produced high volumes of housing at affordable prices to designs and urban plans by good Dutch and European architects.

Tony Fretton, principal, Tony Fretton Architects

Recommendation: Church Walk, Stoke Newington, London by Riches Hawley Mikhail Architects


A lack of foresight in London has produced the ongoing catastrophe of housing in Docklands and has confined good architecture to piecemeal sites. On just such a site in Church Walk, Stoke Newington, Riches Hawley Mikhail Architects has produced a very fine group of dwellings, with interiors that are both beautiful and habitable, and facades that bring vitality to the neighbourhood.

The UK has an abundance of designers with their talent and inventiveness. With a properly structured, long-term approach to housing, they could help UK cities become exceptional.

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